cammy

*

The other day, I got a comment on a post from a reader who identified herself as a young adult with Autism. She told me that she could relate to the post and shared a touching story in return. At the end of her comment she said, “I have a feeling if we lived closer, Brooke and I would get along great,” and she asked if we could e-mail.

I sent her a note and we began a conversation. Later in the day, I found my way to her blog and then to some of her other writing online. I read about her advocacy and about why she had made it her personal mission to change the way that people think about autism. The more I read, the more I wanted to hug her.

Eventually, she asked if it would be okay if she wrote to Brooke directly. My only suggestion was that she keep it relatively short as Brooke tends to get overwhelmed by too many words on a page. (Random side note: a great tip from school — cover the page with a blank piece of paper so that the only thing you can see is the line you’re reading. Helps immensely!) Anyway, she happily agreed and within minutes, this was in my inbox:

Brooke,

My name is Cammy. I have Autism too.

My favorite color is pink. What is your favorite color?

I am going to Disney Land soon. Do you like Disney?

My favorite Disney movies are Tangled and Toy Story 2. What are your favorite Disney movies?

~ Cammy

**

I showed the e-mail to Brooke later that night, but she was minutes from bed and it just wasn’t happening. I wrote to Cammy to let her know that it might take a couple of days for us to respond.

Last night, we tried again. Before I could say, “Boo,” Brooke took the computer from me and began to type. I had expected to be prompting her to answer Cammy’s questions, but she made it pretty clear that she would do it her own way. I think it was when she said, “I would write whatever I want,” that I got the hint.

When I saw what she was writing, I laughed. And then I panicked. The first line of her e-mail read, “To Cammy, I was robbed.” Worried that Cammy might call the cops, I knew I had to do something. I grabbed my phone and shot off a quick e-mail.

Cammy,

Brooke is next to me working hard on her email to you. So far she’s written out the script of what Sally says to Linus in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. She’s added some silly stuff to it that is making her laugh. I hope you don’t mind that she might not answer your questions. We’ll get to that at some point, but for now she’s really enjoying writing to you so I hope it’s okay that it’s not exactly what one might expect in a traditional correspondence ;).

J

And then I sat back and enjoyed watching my kid type whatever she wanted. One little finger at a time, she put together exactly what she wanted to say. I sent it off to Cammy with just a couple more notes of explanation.

Cammy:

Notes from Mama: What follows is Brooke, unedited. Please don’t think she was actually robbed today πŸ™‚ .. I promise she’s fine. The beginning part is a script from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Her question “Do you ever feel like a firework?” is from one her favorite songs, “Firework” by Katy Perry. There are no firemen here and no alarm to test. I think she brought that up because she’s worked very hard to get over her fear of fire alarms at school and it’s something that she thinks about a lot. And “baby Mama” is what she calls me when we pretend that I’m a kid and she’s the mom – a game she loves to play. With that, here’s Brooke….

Dear Cammy,

I was robbed. I spent the whole night waiting for the great pumpkin but I couldn’t go out to trick or treat. Halloween is over and I missed it. You block head. You got me kept by a beagle and I couldn’t go out to trick or treat but it was all your fault I’ll sue wez a school I was* I could have had candy apples and gum. Or big cookies or all sorts of things. But no. I had to listen to you, you block head. Wez a school I was. Trick or treats come only once a year. And should of miss sitting in a pumpkin patch with a block head. You owe me restitution! It is nice to be with a friend of mine. My favorite color is pink. Do you ever feel like a firework? The firemen are gonna test the fire alarm. I love it when Mama is baby Mama.

XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO,

Brooke

I thought about it as I hit send. To whom else in this world could my kid send that e-mail? Who else would get it outside of our circle? I’d ‘known’ Cammy via online correspondence for two days. Two. And I knew that it was okay to send it to her exactly as it was. I even suspected that she wouldn’t really want it any other way.

Cammy wrote back and sealed the deal.

Hi Brooke.

Halloween is so much fun! I like candy. It is yummy! I love the firework song. I do find that sometimes I do feel like a firework, like when I am overwhelmed and things around me are too much. I never thought about it as a firework before, but I like that description! Fire alarms can be loud. My room is pink. It sounds like you have fun playing with your Mama. πŸ™‚
XOXOXOXOX

Cammy.

I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about how important I think it is for my kid – our kids – to find each other, to have a community of their own. But this, this right here, is why.

Because my kid can write out the damned script of a Charlie Brown movie and her new friend (You caught that right? When she said, “it’s nice to be with a friend of mine”?) responds with, “Halloween is so much fun!”

Because she gets it. Because she gets that it has meaning and she gets that it’s part of how my girl interacts and has fun and is her fabulous, sassy little “I would write whatever I want” self.

She GETS it.

And it’s not just okay. It’s not just tolerable. It’s not even odd. It’s just awesome.

Yes, it’s just awesome.

*

Ed note: It took me twenty minutes to figure out “wez a school I was.” I’m fairly certain it’s how she heard “What a fool I was.” I foresee myself using this a lot.Β 

Ed other note: E-mails used with permission. Names changed to protect privacy.Β 

33 thoughts on “cammy

  1. I am the FIRST reply! That must mean I’m staying up way too late at night since you write your blogs way too early in the morning =)
    This is great. Can you put a link to her blog on here?
    Kate

    • you and me both, kid πŸ˜‰

      as for sharing cammy’s blog, i have to leave that up to her.

      i asked to share the e-mails with the understanding that i’d change her name for privacy so if i then link to her, i’ve kind of blown that off the bat πŸ™‚

  2. LOVE this, Jess! It’s so good to see that it really can happen, you know, the friend thing. Nicky’s only 4, but I find myself trying to push the envelope on that, “sooooooo, who’s your friend in school?” which is usually answered by something from Wonder Pets along the lines of “the Wonder Pets LOVE me”. Can’t wait until it’s an actual person who “gets” him! xoxo

  3. This is perfection plain and simple. Now if we could just find a boy who love Ace Ventura or Annoying Orange for my Aidan, we yes we, would be over the moon.
    Enjoy!!

    • Mine scripts “Annoying Orange” all the time. In fact, he was wearing his Annoying Orange T-shirt this morning! πŸ™‚

  4. My kid who was not on the autism spectrum always said, ” I can do it myself daddy”. I guess it rubbed off on her baby, huh!
    Love,
    Dad

  5. Dear Cammy,
    This mom thinks you are pretty awesome. Thanks for letting Jess share the correspondence with Brooke here. It brought a smile to me today.
    Signed, Niksmom

  6. As I said privately, and will now say publicly, “Cammy” is one of the most quality human beings and best friends you will ever meet.

  7. OMG, this is a lovely exchange! How completely awesome, the start of a beautiful friendship for Brooke.

    And now it it making me envious, wondering how I am ever in the world going to find someone like that for Jake. Most of the online spectrummy guys I ‘know” are very aspergery and very unlike my son who is a very emotional sensory seeker.

    (And how much did I want to write “wunderbar” again, make that my catchphrase πŸ˜‰ ?)

  8. How amazing is that!? Thank you to all the Cammys in the world, paving the way for our kids, and letting them know they’re not alone in this world. Some one understands. A lot of some ones! That’s huge! Brooke is lucky to have that!
    I recently found a FB page and video blog by a young college women, who’s on the spectrum. She’s amazing! We shared a brief correspondence on FB. This was the first time I ever spoke with an autistic adult. i told her about Cymbie. She gave me hope. I thanked her for paving the way for ALL our kiddos. I hope some day she comes to the easy coast, and Cymbie gets the opportunity to meet her. For now though, I hope to continue to meet more self advocates, and learn from them. Our girls (and boys) need someone to look up to, who understand exactly what they face every day.

  9. I love this so much! Cammy, you are one incredible lady. I know my son will find his village too, just like this. This gives me such hope and joy. Thank you for sharing this beautiful conversation.

  10. Last year my son had an obsession with “The Great Pumpkin”, too. I quickly figured out what “Wez a school I was” meant because he would say the same lines over and over. We even have a video of him jumping into a pile of leaves saying “never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker!”. We eventually had to stop him from watching it because he would start calling people “stupid” and “blockhead” like they do in the show. I’m so glad Cammy and Brooke could connect with each other. It’s very heartwarming!

  11. “Because she gets it. Because she gets that it has meaning and she gets that it’s part of how my girl interacts and has fun and is her fabulous, sassy little ‘I would write whatever I want’ self.”

    When I read that, I thought, “I’m so glad I started reading DOAM, because now I get that, too. And I would be missing out on so much, if I didn’t.”

  12. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I knew what “wez a school I was” was without looking at your explanation? “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” holds a special place in my heart. When Brandon watched it for the first time years ago, it was the first time we heard him burst into hysterical laughter at understanding someone else’s version of humor πŸ™‚ And hey, Snoopy – how could you possibly go wrong?

    I hope someday Brandon gets to enjoy a relationship just like this!

  13. I find myself talking about Brooke to MacKenzie to let her know there are so many others in “her” community. So much of what Brooke does resonates with my baby girl. She always says she wishes you lived closer so Brooke and her could be friends.

  14. So much awesomeness wrapped up in this exchange. I love that Brooke wrote at length, and about whatever she wanted. (she loves scripts, and she reached out with something she loves, a script, and got a response. Wonderful).

  15. Oh how I enjoyed this post! Seeing as I have found a community of parents who get me and my struggles and hopes and fears, I look forward to my son finding a community of peers online some day. People who get “it” without explanation are awesome. So happy for Brooke and Cammy!

  16. I absolutely caught that one sentence. That incredibly poignant, heart-warming sentence amid the casual fun conversation. It is awesome, it is all awesome, but the fact that you’ve managed to facilitate such a friendship for your girl is spectacular. I know you’ve been to the white house and are an advocate in many venues, but that, dear lady, there are no words for. Good job, mama.

  17. I’m crying as I write this comment because it is what we all want for our kids, what we all dream of. What we search as we build our communities. And there are so many communities out there, those of us who have bonded together over this journey through Autism. And I can’t thank you enough for this place you have created for open dialog between us all. From one Massachusetts Aspie mom who needs to see it every day, to all of us across the country. Tears of joy!

  18. This past year my son found a friend with another child in his class who has autism. It is so great to see them together because like you say, they just get it. They can be friends without any effort or without an adult prompting them on what to say or how to behave.

    On another note, he loooves The Great Pumpkin and can recite that entire cartoon from heart. And he does. If he got Brooke’s email he would have been thrilled.

  19. Cammy, you have just made many, many parents so happy. So happy to know that there are other people (aside from us) who speak our children’s language. Who find them fun and interesting and who want to reach out to them. And while I think many of us believe strongly that our children WILL make social connections that are rewarding for them and their friends, we realize that they will probably have to do it differently than we did. That’s the part that gives me butterflies in my stomach–how do I help my child make those connections without hovering? Or micromanaging his every interaction on the playground? How can I “facilitate” enough, but not so much that I end up being the third wheel in a friendship? Thank you for introducing the idea of having a pen pal! And thank you, Jess, for sharing Brooke’s forthright statement of “I would write whatever I want” as a reminder that sometimes we parents just need to butt out!

  20. My girls best friend this year is an aspie…. And yes, they “get” each other. It is an answered prayer to me! Thank you, as always. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s